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My 2015

2015/12/30 — 10:37

【Text by Thomas K. Flynn】

For me, being able to chew on something I’ve read throughout my day is as essential as the coffee that gets things moving in the morning.

I’ve been lucky enough to have enjoyed most everything I’ve read this year and a number stick out in my mind (Erpenbeck’s End of Days and Luiselli’sThe Story of My Teeth for instance), but the two I’m writing about here occurred one after the other in the past month: Enrique Vila-Matas’ Because She Never Asked and Daniel Sada’s One Out of Two. I wonder, though, if it’s not recency-bias so much as the circumstances under which I read them.

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I’ve been working a short term job–which happens to have ended today, which sounds like the intro to one of Vila-Matas’ books, come to think of it–and found myself riding the L on a daily basis for the first time in years. I try to travel without a bag, so having books that fit into an inner pocket of my vest is somewhat key (and inner pockets in one’s jacket: so very, very key). Both these volumes, slim and not overly tall, were ideal travel companions on those grounds and, what’s more, somehow enhanced the physical experience of riding the train, too.

Because She Never Asked is as playful as any of Vila-Matas’ work: stories within stories, diving and looping in and out of one another; narrators less unreliable than slowly unhinging; a prose that skips along at a pace at once jaunty and leisurely. In many ways (and as Michael Orthofer suggested in his review), Because She Never Asked functions as a great entry point to Vila-Matas, but I would also offer that this work is perfectly suited for a short trip on public transit. The story moves along, sure, which is something of a key component to anything read in a public space, but it also possesses a light density: that is, one can dip in and out without feeling like anything has been lost, but at some point, some aspect of the story will go off in one’s head, motivating a return to story, a desire to dive back in and parse it further. For me, being able to chew on something I’ve read throughout my day is as essential as the coffee that gets things moving in the morning.

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